Lieutenant Colonel Ken L. Overturf (ret.) is an award-winning helicopter pilot, Master Parachutist, and Robert W. Rackstraw’s former commanding officer during the Vietnam War (1969-1970). He is one of a dozen veterans from their old division, First Cavalry Air Mobile, that have collaborated with this investigation.
After just six weeks in a highly-classified helicopter unit, Warrant Officer Rackstraw was forced out of the intelligence-gathering operation for lying about his qualifications.
“He volunteered knowing he couldn’t get [top-secret] clearance,” said Overturf. “When I confronted him, he was cavalier about it – ‘I’ll do something else.’ That made him a con-man.”
After leaving the chopper unit, Rackstraw became a heroic Vietnam aviator with multiple medals. But when he wasn’t flying, vets said he was a “crazy sucker” who collected illegal explosives and weapons; road around in a stolen commander’s Jeep; “freelanced” on illegal jungle missions with the CIA and Special Forces; and made unsanctioned parachute jumps with a “go to hell” attitude.
And that’s exactly why his former commander talked to the Cold Case Team. Overturf noted that D.B. Cooper “was not only fearless, but [he] also had fully prepared a detailed recon of the area from the air.”
Does he believe Rackstraw is the fugitive daredevil? “I do. Of the potential suspects identified by the FBI, Rackstraw fits the mold best. And he appears crazy enough to do it and had nothing to lose by trying.” FYI: Much more on Rackstraw’s dramatic times in Vietnam are in the award-winning book, The Last Master Outlaw.